Obesity classification in military personnel: A comparison of body fat, waist circumference, and body mass index measurements

Katie M. Heinrich, Nattinee Jitnarin, Richard R. Suminski, La Verne Berkel, Christine M. Hunter, Lisa Alvarez, Antionette R. Brundige, Alan L. Peterson, John P. Foreyt, C. Keith Haddock, Walker S.C. Poston

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Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate obesity classifications from body fat percentage (BF%), body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference (WC). Methods: A total of 451 overweight/obese active duty military personnel completed all three assessments. Results: Most were obese (men, 81%; women, 98%) using National Institutes of Health (NIH) BF% standards (men, >25%; women, >30%). Using the higher World Health Organization (WHO) BF >35% standard, 86% of women were obese. BMI (55.5% and 51.4%) and WC (21.4% and 31.9%) obesity rates were substantially lower for men and women, respectively (p < 0.05). BMI/WC were accurate discriminators for BF% obesity (θ for all comparisons >0.75, p < 0.001). Optimal cutoff points were lower than NIH/WHO standards; WC = 100 cm and BMI = 29 maximized sensitivity and specificity for men, and WC = 79 cm and BMI = 25.5 (NIH) or WC = 83 cm and BMI = 26 (WHO) maximized sensitivity and specificity for women. Conclusions: Both WC and BMI measures had high rates of false negatives compared to BF%. However, at a population level, WC/BMI are useful obesity measures, demonstrating fair-to-high discriminatory power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-73
Number of pages7
JournalMilitary medicine
Volume173
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2008

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

Heinrich, K. M., Jitnarin, N., Suminski, R. R., Berkel, L. V., Hunter, C. M., Alvarez, L., Brundige, A. R., Peterson, A. L., Foreyt, J. P., Haddock, C. K., & Poston, W. S. C. (2008). Obesity classification in military personnel: A comparison of body fat, waist circumference, and body mass index measurements. Military medicine, 173(1), 67-73. https://doi.org/10.7205/MILMED.173.1.67